Catherine Woteki, a Virginia Tech alumna who earned her Ph.D. from the Department of Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise, was recently named to President Biden’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology and is one of 30 members who will directly advise the president.

The presidential appointed council of science and technology experts is the only group of non-government advisors who make science, technology, and innovation policy recommendations to the president and the White House.

“Being asked to advise President Biden as a member of his Council of Advisors on Science and Technology was both a surprise and an honor,” Woteki said. “The president has asked us for advice about what lessons we've learned from the pandemic, how to address changing climate, and how to assure that the United States remains a world leader in science and technology.”

Woteki, internationally known for her expertise in agriculture, food, nutrition, health, and science policy, is an agriculture and food scientist and nutritionist who served in the U.S. Department of Agriculture as chief scientist and under secretary for research, education, and economics during the Obama-Biden administration, where she oversaw USDA’S Agricultural Research Service, Economic Research Service, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, and the National Agricultural Statistics Service. She also previously served as USDA’s first under secretary of food safety.

“Having a Virginia Tech alumna on this council not only highlights all of the incredible accomplishments in Dr. Woteki’s career, but is also a tangible representation of how the Department of Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise prepares leaders in our field,” said Stella Volpe, the department head.

“The future of America depends on science and technology like never before,” said Council Co-Chair and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Eric Lander in the White House announcement. “President Biden understands that addressing the opportunities and challenges we face – to our health, our planet, our economic prosperity, and our national security – will require harnessing the full power of science and technology. Scientific progress depends on people seeing things in new ways because they bring different lenses, different experiences, different passions, different questions. This PCAST is uniquely prepared because of its extraordinary scientific breadth, wide range of work experiences, and unprecedented diversity.”

According to the White House announcement, this President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology draws from the nation’s most talented and accomplished individuals, including 20 elected members of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, five MacArthur “Genius” Fellows, two former Cabinet secretaries, and two Nobel laureates. Its members include experts in astrophysics and agriculture, biochemistry and computer engineering, ecology and entrepreneurship, immunology and nanotechnology, neuroscience and national security, social science and cybersecurity, and more.

Woteki served as dean of Iowa State’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and director of Iowa State’s Agriculture Experiment Station, and currently serves as president of the Charles Valentine Riley Memorial Foundation, a nonprofit organization that works to promote a broader, comprehensive understanding of agriculture and enhance agriculture through increased scientific knowledge.

She is Visiting Distinguished Institute Professor in the Biocomplexity Institute at the University of Virginia, and a professor of food science and human nutrition at Iowa State University.

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